Gliding "paused"


Which would be very handy to know…


Yet again, all this information is stuck at certain WHQ’s who really don’t want the hassle of organising such events. There are some great WexO’s out there who will do what they can to arrange activities using the contacts open to them, there are some who turn up, claim the pay and go home and do nothing else apart from steal oxygen. Regional HQ’s should monitor their WexO’s performance … ummmmm yeah ok then.


Well I know of at least 4 sqns that have been to BZN this year, all approached independently and 2 got flights!

More a case of staff pulling their finger out to get what they can; my daughter’s Sqn got to 5 different stations in 2017 through approaching directly and flexible in when they could go.


Correct, & I (& others) do; 4 - 5 visits in the last 18 months, including a flight for all cadets.

However, it is time-consuming, both for the CFAVs & the “recipient” sqns / stns (&, where relevant, the ACLO), & not necessarily successful = counter-productive & frustrating.

Remember the “submit cadet / CFAV names / minibus drivers” project a couple of years ago for the “centrally organised” go fly mid-week (at last minute notice) in a Voyager?? Right principle, but next to zero chance of this being practical for perhaps one day’s notice to sweep round several ATC sqns & blast down to BZN - & then have operational requirements negate the option of a flight.

By nature of cadet / CFAV availability, you are looking primarily at school half-term breaks, etc; this restricts the number of days that a stn / sqn can assist. Geographically, there are lots of ATC sqns where even a 2 day visit to a (flying) stn is not that practical & even for a visit that we are coordinating for BZN (relatively “close-by” for us), no accommodation is going to be available = alternative options required. Not the end of the world, we can look at camping, but it is another hurdle put in the way.


I have asked this question several times, so far without a reasonable answer. The new Super VGSs will have a lot more equipment and the expectation is that twice the equipment will produce twice the flying. The one thing that gets forgotten is that you still only have one airfield.

The call of “All clear above and behind?” is there to stop a conflict with one glider landing as another is being launched and when it isn’t clear there is a delay. This delay provokes another delay, maybe of the launch of a second glider and certainly to the landing of the first (the whole flight is delayed). This in turn starts to delay the whole operation and all the extra equipment (beyond a certain point) will do is give you a longer queue of gliders with cadets sat in them waiting for a launch.

Operating both left and right hand circuits will help and nearly double the equipment actually being used, but there is still a limit. If you have ten gliders all doing ten minute flights with ten minutes on the ground between launches (if it is more than this you are wasting resources), that means a movement (take off or landing) every minute. This makes no allowance for towing the cables out (no launches for probably ten minutes), or the break in the smooth operation for practice (or real) cable breaks, or the slowing down in the operation for a first solo. In other words, just adding more gliders and winches will not produce a comparable increase in flying.

Now, I am not saying you can’t have a very high launch rate for a while if you have lots of gliders, but pretty soon those landing start to slow things down. In a gliding competition it is possible to launch the entire 60 gliders in 30 minutes, but the only landings are being done by a small number of very experienced tug pilots who are happy to land alongside each other.

The airfield will be the limitation.


Well, it depends on your gliding experience. I’ve flown everything from single pistons to heavy jets, instructed, examined, but put me in a Vigiliant or otherwise and I’d bring additional risk too… for a while. :wink:


In my experience, according to the RAF there are two ways of doing things, their way and the wrong way. This has led them to not look at how other organisations have improved their operations since the mid 50s. The stuff they do all the time (fighters, helicopters, trucking) is probably OK, but anything new and they look backwards. One is reminded of Gert Frobe in Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines - “There is nothing a German officer cannot do”

In a former life I flew a three engined wide body jet for a Big Airline. The RAF also flew the same aircraft, in fact the Big Airline did their simulator training and checks. The aeroplane was capable of a very good Cat 3B automatic landing and one day two senior officers tried to do one (without of course bothering with the training, or even reading the book). The result of their first attempt was a seriously broken aeroplane because they did not know what they were doing. Because they were senior officers it was clearly not their fault, so RAF aircraft were banned from doing Autolands because they were deemed dangerous. Meanwhile, the large numbers of civil aircraft of the same type continued worldwide to Autoland quite safely.

But back to your quote above; if you are good (and with those qualifications you should be) they should snap you up. A good pilot is a good pilot whatever you sit him/her in. I once sent a pilot with similar qualifications to yours on his first solo in a glider after one dual flight with me after which I felt there was little more I could teach him.

Just for the record, the solo pilot did three beautiful chandelles on the downwind leg of his second flight ever in a glider.



A little below the belt! But hey never let the facts get in the way of a good story. I shall not even try to put up any defence of what KDF did, so you probably know what I’m thinking. If you ever run into him you could ask him about landing with “Diff on Red”. We could discuss the Big Airline approach to the Kenyan game park. These things happen in even the best run establishments

There was never any intention of maintaining the Autoland facility on the Tristar, there just wasn’t a justifiable case for doing so.The incident at Brize had no bearing on the decision.

As for SOs having a career afterwards, well the Training Manager of a UK airline I worked for rolled sedately off the end of the runway after an autoland in LVP. He continued in post and rose in the hierarchy, So it occurs in civil aviation as well.

A good pilot is one whose basic technique is so fundamentally sound that it is almost instantly portable. In '82 a man was pulled out of a desk job and sent to teach the Nimrod force tanking. He had never flown either the Nimrod or Comet. He got in the RHS in the climb flew the RV and join and then moved to line astern on the Victor for a few minutes. They then streamed the hose and he carried out a couple of near perfect prods with an emergency breakaway on the last. “Seems OK” he announced, “shall we begin?”. Two days later he did the same thing in the dark. That’s what I call a good pilot.



That was a long time ago, in the days of BOAC. The airline and the industry learned from it and changed the way they did/do things. Accidents and incidents do happen in the best run organisations.

The counter incident to the one I quoted that you should have quoted was the infamous Penta Hotel near miss caused by very much the same action (engaging autopilots in Autoland below minimum height/not having all the right indications). The commander in that case was severely disciplined by being demoted by the airline and the Authority overstamping his licence as only valid as co-pilot. He never flew as a captain again, although for very sad reasons.

As for the RAF not doing Autolands in aircraft already approved, I would have thought they needed to be more all weather capable than the humble civil airlines, not less.

I expect we have drifted too far away from the title of this thread for the moderator to allow, so let’s talk about air cadet gliding. Oh, as I said before, there isn’t any!


Hopefully, as per SOPs, the Nimrod was back on the starboard beam before the centre-line hose was trailed… :sunglasses:


I think I just proved my point about there being nothing to post about if we have to stick to gliding!


You did. There are some really good stats found by Madeleine Moon MP on gliding - 11k sorties in the year before the pause. Less than 1000 in total since.


1000 in total. :frowning: My club managed a total of about 2,500 flights and 1,000 hours in our 3 2-seaters in 2017, though weather permitting we are a 7-day operation.


I got the impression VGS were 7 day operations for proportions of the year to accommodate GS. I wouldn’t get too put out, as a commercial operator you won’t have people being fed to you to fly.

I was surprised it was a 1000.


Those stats aren’t individual flights, possibly completed awards to cadets and take no account of the flights to recat instructors and pilots.


Surely flights pertaining to instructors/pilots can’t be included in cadet flight stats?


No they shouldn’t be.

However the numbers as presented 11k and 1k sorties, have been taken by cats to be the total number of individual flights undertaken. Which they aren’t the 11k number is the number of GIC/GS/AGT awarded in 2013. Would assume 1k is the number of ATP(2-6flights)/SGS(40flights)/GWGC(25flights) awarded.

Across the organisation there would be thousands of flights that would be SCT to regain currency for the instructors as well.


Well that’s slightly better news. So to be clear, those numbers (from defence minister) are people achieving gliding scholarships, not cadets getting airborne?


If they’re are being compared against the 11k awards I would hope the same sort of data is being used. I would say they’re heavily swayed toward blue & bronze level but there are silver and gold happening.

Take into account little riss were the fourth site to be cleared for cadet flying only yesterday to join Topcliffe (cleared March) Syerston (cleared Jun) and Upavon (cleared Oct) so no VGS has had a full year awarding as yet.


But the 11k…is that cadets getting airborne or cadets achieving wings? (I appreciate wings is a loose term, given that the 11k would have been gliding scholarships of some kind and the newer numbers could include blue wings which don’t need any airborne time at all).